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Nepal and Pakistan Change Policies to Boost Climbing


 

by Editor

February 21, 2002

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

The governments of Nepal and Pakistan have made dramatic changes to their peak fees and climbing regulations in an effort to lure back climbers who have abandoned the Himalayan nations following domestic unrest and the war against terrorism.

In late December, Nepalese tourism officials announced that 103 previously closed peaks will be opened up to climbing and trekking in the spring of 2002. Additionally, liaison officers will no longer be required to accompany climbing expeditions on peaks under 21,325 feet. The measures are designed to boost climbing and trekking visits to the Himalayan kingdom, which were down by 50 percent as of November due to skirmishes between the Maoist rebels and the Nepalese government.

Nearby Pakistan announced in late January that fees to climb peaks above 6000 meters will be cut in half for 2002, the International Year of the Mountains, as a means of addressing a 93 percent decrease in mountaineering permits issued when compared to 2001. The permit fee for a full team of seven members attempting K2 will be cut from $12,000 to $6,000. Similarly, the group fee for attempting peaks between 8001 and 8500 meters will be $4,500, peaks between 7501 and 8000 meters will be $2,000, peaks between 7001 and 7500 meters will be $1,250 and peaks between 6001 and 7000 meters will be $750.

The US State Department continues to warn travelers to both countries about the potential for violence. Full details of the travel advisories can be found at http://www.travel.state.gov/.

News courtesy of American Alpine Club and the AAC E-News.

Who knows if this will be enough to boost, or rather, save tourism in these areas for the upcoming climbing season. My guess is that many expeditions might start to rethink going to these places until things "cool down" a little. Between the recent brutal murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and the Maoist activities in Nepal, both the British Embassy and US State Departments have issued critical travel warnings for these areas.

In Nepal, the nation-wide shutdown of business and transport services (bandh) called by the Maoists for 22 and 23 February seems to be widely supported, which seems to even be getting the attention of long-time expats living in Kathmandu. I have a friend living in Kathmandu right now, and he says he would not feel safe travelling in the mountains considering the current situation. His feelings were reaffirmed with the Monday, February 4th bombing of the Lukla airport. It did not cause major damage to the airport, but local authorities are concerned that the rebels are planning more attacks. The Lukla airport is the only airport available (other than Khumjung) for people flying in and out of the Everest Region.



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